The article described workers being arrested, beaten and deported to their home countries after striking over pay. Recruitment fees, of approximately a year’s wages, were all but required, and laborers had to work overtime, sometimes seven days a week, to earn the base pay they were promised. Not one of the dozens of workers interviewed had his own passport. Some were living in filthy, crowded apartments.
Those conditions are common to projects in the United Arab Emirates, where poor South Asian immigrants make up most of the work force.
In 2009, after announcing the project, N.Y.U. had issued a “statement of labor values” saying those building N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi would be treated better.
In a statement to the N.Y.U. community, its president, John Sexton, called the workers’ treatment, “if true as reported, troubling and unacceptable.”